Tuesday, 2 January 2018

SCD/Marathon Update - One Year On

In Jan 2017 being terribly overweight and unfit and having a long standing dream to be able to run a marathon I set myself the following goals.

  • Lose 10lbs
  • Run a marathon by the end of the year
  • Do 1 chin up

The means I settled on were: the Slow Carb Diet, cold showers and various exercise plans off the 'net.  Now one year on (Jan 2018)

  • I've lost 40lbs,
  • Run a marathon, two half-marathons, three 10k, one 5k and around thirty Parkrun 5ks,
  • Can regularly do 5 chin ups.

I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement from my wife, and all the people who sponsored me on my marathon but also the following people made it possible

Tim Ferriss (Slow Carb Diet)
Alan Broodryk (NHS knee and hip specialist and former ultrarunner)
Jason Fitzgerald (Strength Running Warm ups and running plan)
Nick Nilsson (chin up specialist)
The Forest Rec Parkrun Volunteers

In 2018 I'm hoping to run my first ultra marathon.

The Best Of 2017

Here's the books, films, TV shows that I most enjoyed in 2017 (hardly any were released in 2017 though)

Non-fiction Books

Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying
Joshua Wolf Shenk: Powers Of Two
Primo Levi: If This Is A Man/The Truce
Christopher McDougall: Born to Run

Fiction Books

Thomas Pynchon: Inherent Vice
Martin McDonagh: The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Raymond Chandler: The Long Goodbye
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables


Hunt For The Wilderpeople (Netflix)
Paddington 2
Free Fire
Selma (Netflix)
Shimmer Lake (Netflix)
Manchester By The Sea
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Trumbo (Netflix)

Logan, Spiderman: Homecoming and Wonder Woman were also good

TV Shows (all available on Netflix)

The Good Place
Narcos (especially S3)
The Mighty Boosh S1

also two comedy specials

Rory Scovel Tries Stand Up For The First Time
Brian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers


The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (Netflix)
Miss Sharon Jones! (Netflix)
13th (Netflix)


Randy Newman: Harps And Angels
Loudon Wainwright III: A Live One
Ani DiFranco: Ani DiFranco

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Nottingham Christmas Half Marathon 2017

My first competitive race since the marathon was the Nottingham Christmas Half Marathon at Holme Pierrepont. Fuelled by christmas pudding, AC/DC and arm-sweat salt I achieved a time of 2:02:07 and finished 351 out of 677 runners. 

Happy with that as I had no game plan, very little training and no goal other than to finish.

My son did his first race - 5k - and loved it.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

New PB!

Boy that nearly killed me! My lungzzzz!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Spooky Sprint Nottingham 10k 2017

Got into the swing of things by dressing up as Alice Cooper.

Everyone on The Facebook said I looked like Ozzy Osbourne. One runner called me Bob Marley. Ah well. Did a Parkrun this morning that was my first run since the marathon, my ankle was on the mend till I twisted it in a pothole about 3/4 of the way around. But I still managed to keep going AND FINISHED IN 29th PLACE!!!!!

Not bad for toddling round in the dark.

Time 55:06
Position: 29th
Male Vet Pos: 8th

Here's the pic to prove it!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Post Marathon Aftermath!

In hindsight I regret running the full distance in training. Everyone says don't do it, but I did. I wasn't ready and I got injured. Any psychological advantage I was hoping to gain by knowing 'I've already done this' was totally outweighed by worrying about the injuries I was carrying.

But more than that I feel I 'wasted' the sense of achievement. The big moment of realising my long standing goal happened on my own, unwitnessed at an arbitrarily chosen point by the River Trent. I walked to the tram and went home. When I crossed the line at the Leicester Marathon there was relief and the joy of seeing my family, but no sense of a milestone because I'd already achieved my goal several weeks earlier.

Injuries not withstanding I think I was wrong to take so long off running after the marathon. I think I would have recovered a lot quicker to go out jogging 1k and stretching more.

I still suspect there's a lot of snake oil around gels and sports drinks. I followed the advice but I think I might get the same results with bacon, bananas, water and some real food. Probably my slow pace makes this less of an issue though.

The online approval is quite addictive. For most of the year I'd not mentioned my diet and when anyone asked me if I'd lost weight I'd just say “well I've lost a bit cos I'm hoping to do a marathon”. But raising money for Dan's medical bills forced me to a) do a full marathon and b) go public in the worst kind of way. But now that pimping myself for cash-monies is done there's a little needy hole in my life that's not getting fed with Facebook likes. But it's good for the soul to keep things on the down low. (So here I am putting it online!!!!)

I still want to do an Ultra-marathon next year but now I feel very mortal. It's not just a matter of adding more and more miles.

This all sounds a bit down but it's not. I ACHIEVED MY GOAL! Now I just want to make sure it's not a 'one-off'.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Leicester Marathon 15 Oct 2017 Race Report (Of Sorts)


Finished well under the 6 hr cut off that I dreaded and well under my 5:15 practice time. Was a tiny bit disappointed not to do sub 4:30 as the delayed start made me hope the chip time would come in just under. However the mitigating factors are I was running injured from the start and I managed to raise £800+ for Dan Beasley of Cleft. 

Race Report

Up at 6am for 3 bacon and 3 scrambled eggs, and greasing, taping, and sun-creaming various parts of my anatomy. Filled up my hydration pack and headed out. 

Tram. Coffee. Train. Last minute study of course map. Walk to park. Register. 

Weather looks more overcast than was forecast so I decided to go with the 'non-technical' Cleft shirt hoping I don't overheat. 

Drop bag, Take photo. Reset (analogue, non-garmin, non-stop-) watch. Go to back of starting line

Talk to Taz from Telford. He has one marathon under his belt (The Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon). Recommended. 

Reset watch again. WE'RE OFF!!

I'm in pain straight away as I knew I would be. Part one of the plan is to take it really slow and not even worry about checking the splits written on a sheet in my pocket. I can't anyway because many of the mile markers are missing. Some are spray painted on the road (I figure out after about 8 miles, but even those are patchy). 

I have 3 sets of times good (9 mins), average (11 mins), and just-fast-enough-to-beat-the-6-hour-cut-off (13 mins). When I get to the 6 mile mark the marathon and half split up and I find I'm a little over 9 min pace, so as per the plan I set out to seriously run the next 12. If I can get through those in a decent time and uninjured, or at least not-more-injured, I can probably finish no matter what state I'm in. 

Yep. That's M'Plan.

There's no headphones allowed so I try to change up my mental approach each mile to stop me going nuts, or zoning out to a crawl. A popular mental mantra is "it's not pain, it's just discomfort". Which helps. So does the advice I picked up from a running podcast, which was smile and thank every well wisher and marshall. So I do. (here's me attempting to smile and thank the photographer)

This causes problems at the aid stations. "Water" they shout and hold up cups of water. "Gels" they shout, holding up gels. "High five" they shout - so I go to high five these lovely people. Not noticing the cups of hi5 energy drink in their hands. It gets me every time. Thankfully I managed, at the last moment, to stop myself smashing the drinks out of their hands. That wouldn't look good.

Wait! So the energy drinks aren't in bottles? There was no point wearing this bottle belt then. Grrr. 

Mile 13 - Low point - peeing in some bushes and getting nettled all over my legs. High point I didn't have to stop at either of the 2 train crossings. Contrary to other race reports, there were no timing mats, so any delay would have been added to my overall time. 

Mile 16 - ran for a while with a lady who'd done 2 marathons including the Milton Keynes marathon. Recommend. Took my mind off the pain discomfort for a while, which was nice, but she was too fast for me and I had to let her go.

Next up - burning stomach pain. Really worried I was doing something terrible to my stomach muscles, but them realised it was the race belt buckle rubbing against my bare skin. Moved it. Pain gone. Nipple plasters also gone. Hope I don't bleed all over Dan's nice yellow shirt.

Mile 18 - I've done the serious bit and I'm still between 9 and 11 min miles. I just might finish this thing...

Mile 21 - Now I know I can finish - even if I have to walk the rest. Took my phone out and rang my family to give them an ETA. Took out my pack of dried fruit and nuts. Threw them away. Dried fruit! What was I thinking? Took out a square of Bournville chocolate instead. I had lots of sugar bribes carbohydrate motivations planned for certain miles but didn't get to most of them. Too many gels - even though I had less than one per hour. Gels suck. I hate gels. 

Mile 23 - I might possibly finish without further injury.  We're heading back into the city. There is a little path taped off for the runners right through the city centre, but 4 hours in, the shoppers have taken over and bemused looks are the best you can expect. I'm way behind the runner in front and no one is close to catching me. So to Mrs Sunday Shopper I'm just a weird sweaty guy running through a shopping centre. In this respect running the Leicester Marathon is a bit like fighting in Vietnam. Everyone is quite enthusiastic to see you heading out, but the reception is a lot colder on your return.

Mile 24 - trying to run faster.

Mile 25 - Slowing down again. You know. Just to change it up. At some point round here I find I'm completely unable to run down the under pass. As in, my legs just don't work in that direction. I can run on flat and uphill but not down. It's like my quad muscles have just been replaced by wooden planks.

Mile 26 - running faster again. It hurts so much anyway, and going slower is not giving me any relief.  There are loads of people doing a walk - sprint thing, so I'm constantly overtaking and being overtaken by the same people. I have no idea if I'm gaining anything by my steady plodding. I'm getting righteously angry at this stupid race and just want it to be over. This is making me run a bit faster. 

Last 0.2 miles. The final uphill isn't bad despite what the race reports say. It's just final and that makes it bad if you're not expecting it. So glad I ran this last bit when I came here to do the 10k. Now I'm just annoyed cos some seems to have added an extra 100 years [Freudian slip] yards that I don't remember.  

Pass a guy stretching his crampy calves. C'mon dude - nearly there! Coming back into Victoria Park, I see my family cheering me just before the finish line. I'm able to finish strong with a smile on my face as the announcer stumbles over my number and gives up on trying to find my name. 

Post race. 

Quads on fire. Can't eat or drink. Need loo. Can sit down. Cannot get back up. 

10 mins later. Legs and feet feel OK. Head for train. Long wait at station. Coffee, crisps, energy bar, cold pizza, water. OMG!!! What's that on my big toe! 

When I say it didn't hurt, I mean the pain was masked by all the other pain in my body.

Train. Reading The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. BK Value Meal and McD's chocolate shake to go.

Home. Pop blisters. Cold shower. Cold bath. Straight out to a friend's gig. I can't walk!

Home. Ready Meal Curry. Red wine. Deadpool. Bed-pool.

My First Marathon.